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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Ohio Reports Lowest Number Of Daily Coronavirus Cases In Two Weeks

Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

The Ohio Department of Health reported 685 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the lowest number of cases reported since Sept. 8. The state’s 21-day average continues to stay around 1,000 cases, with a slight downward trend.

On Tuesday Ohio reported 145,850 total COVID-19 cases and 4,635 deaths. The state has had 14,899 hospitalizations and 3,210 ICU admissions.

At his coronavirus briefing Tuesday Gov. DeWine said the state is seeing a decline in its COVID-19 positivity rate, with a seven-day average positivity rate of 2.9%. The seven-day moving average of testing is 32,000 tests per day and growing, he said.

The state unveiled a new online dashboard tracking COVID-19 demographic case data by race and ethnicity. Residents can access demographic information on coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths by county and compare it to Ohio’s population as a whole.

“This dashboard helps better track health inequities and disparities,” he said. “This data can help put critical decisions into context for policymakers,” he said.

The governor said improving data collection and reporting as well as creating a publicly available dashboard were recommendations that came out of the COVID-19 Minority Health Strike Force.

At the briefing, Dr. Mark Weir, an Ohio State University environmental engineer, spoke about droplets, aerosols and how COVID-19 spreads. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on aerosol transmission have been a subject of controversy in the past week; the agency posted and then removed new guidance concerning the role of aerosols in the spread of COVID-19.

“We've known for a little while that aerosols are a component [in exposure]. But how important those aerosols are is the question,” he said.

Transmission is less likely when outside because there is more space for aerosols to disperse, he said.

“Outdoors is where you’re going to be able to get the absolute largest volume,” he said. “Plus, you have all the other dynamics of things like UV exposure and being able to move around in a larger, more random pattern as well.”

In addition to practices the public has already been encouraged to use, including mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing, there are engineering options to help prevent the spread of the virus through aerosols when indoors, he said. Indoor spaces can use ventilation systems to try to mimic outdoor features and reduce the spread of the virus. Businesses should consult with licensed HVAC technicians or engineers to find the best ventilation options for the buildings they use, he advised.

In reference to the Trump campaign event Gov. DeWine attended on Monday, in which over 1,000 Trump supporters gathered, the governor said it was “too bad” that many did not follow guidance on wearing a mask. But he said he has been consistent in how he handles issues related to the First Amendment. He compared his approach to political demonstrations with how he has addressed churches during the pandemic, by encouraging mask wearing but never issuing an order to close churches.

“We've made it very clear that if you're exercising your First Amendment rights, we're not going to have a health order that prohibits you from exercising your First Amendment rights,” he said.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted, who spoke at the Trump event, said he tried to encourage people to wear masks “much to my own peril.” During Husted’s speech the crowd booed as he spoke about wearing face coverings and showed various Trump-branded masks.

“The people of this state are making this work. It's not perfect. Yesterday certainly wasn’t,” he said. “But by and large, the people of Ohio are getting it right and I tried to set a good example in what I did.”

Copyright 2020 WYSO